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Libya: Haftar forces target African refugees

Refugees and migrants in a detention centre in Libya. [File photo]
Refugees and migrants in a detention centre in Libya [File photo]

African immigrants have turned t to football to heal their suffering following an offensive on the Libyan capital, Tripoli by retired Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar.

About 636,000 irregular immigrants have arrived in Libya since Haftar’s launch of a faltering attack on control Tripolion 4 April. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the spiral of violence has affected the lives of these migrants negatively.

Illegal immigrants, who avoid appearing on cameras, are often exploited in hard labour, especially in restaurants, construction and auto repair. The only leisure for immigrants is football, as they meet on Fridays every week on a sandy field next to a road in the Friday Market area in Tripoli, to play, hoping that this will distract them from the sound of Haftar’s raids and its tragedies. Teams compete with each other, in the presence of dozens of spectators, also immigrants too, as the matches take place in an atmosphere similar to an organised football tournament.

Teams compete with each other, in the presence of dozens of spectators, also immigrants, as the matches take place in an atmosphere similar to an organised football tournament.

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Speaking to the Anadolu Agency, a Nigerian who organises those football matches named Suleiman said: “The situation these days is very difficult for all foreigners in Libya. The circumstances of the war make our work very difficult.”

He continued: “We play football every Friday to forget about the effects the war has on us. To keep our spirits high, we resort to playing football.”

Due to the internal turmoil, in recent years, Libya has become the most important transit point of irregular African migrants, who flee their country to escape poverty and conflict, to Europe.

Last Monday, the United Nations announced that foreign aircraft supporting Haftar were responsible for the death of 53 migrants and refugees in raids on a detention centre in the capital, Tripoli, on 2 July 2019.

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AfricaInternational OrganisationsLibyaNewsNigeriaUN
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